When celebs take to writing...

Some bright stars of the film firmament are turning storytellers for children, making their own kids or pets the heroes of the tales they spin, and the book industry is excited about it

What is common between Alia Bhatt and Soha Ali Khan? Well, for one, they are both actors; second, they’re related to Kareena Kapoor Khan. And that’s not all, there’s also a third common factor — both are authors of children’s books.

Alia Bhatt recently released her first picture book for children, titled Ed Finds A Home, inspired by her beloved cat Edward. The series is meant to inspire a love for nature and animals amongst the new generation.
Soha Ali Khan and her husband Kunal Kemmu have co-authored the endearing children’s book series Inni And Bobo Adventures. Soha, who had made her debut as a writer with the witty book The Perils Of Being Moderately Famous about being a fringe member of a famous family, says Inni and Bobo was inspired by her daughter Innaya. She says, “Everyone was after me to get down to writing, especially my mother. Kunal does not enjoy reading as much as I do, and our child loves to be read to.
So we decided to do a book for her birthday and it turned into a catalogue of Inni and Bobo and their numerous adventures. Innaya herself has contributed to the stories, with many characters coming from her mind and she is well aware that she is the hero of the book.”
It’s not just Alia and Soha — filmmaker Karan Johar’s The Big Thoughts Of Little Luv in 2020 was inspired by his twins Yash and Roohi, and his own experiences as a single parent.
If you are wondering why are so many celebs, who are already hugely successful in their careers, are taking time out of their busy schedules to pen children's stories, well, children’s literature is a lucrative market.
“Over the last few years, we have seen a lot of mainstream celebrities authoring books for children. It’s encouraging for the books industry too that public figures are using their influence to reach out to parents and kids alike through the medium of books”, says Preeti Chaturvedi, CEO and Founder of Sunflower Seeds, which launched their children’s imprint, Saplings.
Actor Nandana Dev Sen was the first to foray into this field, and has authored six children's books. Tisca Chopra penned What’s Up With Me: Puberty, Periods, Pimples, People, Problems and More, aimed at youngsters as they transition from childhood to adolescence. “I realised how this was a significant time for both parents and children; also, this is when the segregation between genders and the socio-cultural conditioning of the society are reinforced, and I wanted to articulate it,” says the actor.
But is celebrity status a draw amongst publishers? Penguin Random House, which has published Sad-Glad by Siddharth Mallya as well as Inni and Bobo by Soha and Kunal, says, they don’t actively seek out celebrity authors; for them it is the story which remains the prime focus.
“Writing for children demands a unique skill set and a deep dedication to crafting enduring, imaginative stories. Our focus remains on the merit of the story itself, whether penned by a seasoned author or a celebrity. However, a celebrity’s involvement undeniably helps in breaking through the limited media space for children’s literature. Their fame and credibility attract attention, making it easier for these books to be discovered and prominently displayed in bookstores. This organic trend highlights the increasing interest in children’s literature. Ultimately, it’s the timeless appeal and quality of the story that matters most, ensuring that each book stands the test of time,” says Sohini Mitra, Publisher — Children’s Division, Penguin Random House India.
This trend is nothing new. Internationally as well, celebrities such as David Williams, Meghan Markle and Tom Fletcher have all put pen to paper, creating fantastical worlds for children.
“As kids are known to take to the screens more than books, all these efforts go a long way in inculcating the reading habit in young minds as well as honing their sensibilities,” says a psychologist.
"Writing for children demands a unique skill set and a deep dedication to crafting enduring, imaginative stories. Our focus remains on the merit of the story itself, whether penned by a seasoned author or a celebrity. — Sohini Mitra, Publisher, Children’s Division, Penguin Random House India

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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